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Pets and Wills – What Happens to Them After You Die?

25 Feb 2021

Pets and wills

Roughly 61% of Australian households have a pet. And for many of us, our pets hold a special place in our hearts. It’s common for pet owners to be concerned about what happens if they are no longer around to care for their pet.
For those wondering about this, you’ll be glad to know that you can use your will to make sure your pet is cared for after you die – and it isn’t all that tricky!

Choosing a carer for your pet in your will

Most pet owners will take comfort knowing that a trusted friend or family member will look after their pet after they have died. If you have someone that you trust to look after your pet, you can nominate them as a carer – and even leave a gift of money that they can use to look after your pet.
While this choice, or ‘nomination’, is not legally binding, having it in your will means that everyone will know what you wanted for your pet. It’s important to let your choice of carer know that you picked them and get their consent. This conversation will also be a chance to talk through how you want your pet cared for.

For those without trusted carers – rehoming your pet in your will

If you don’t want to rehome your pet with family or friends, you can look into having your pet rehomed through an animal shelter that you choose. ‘Pet legacy programs’ offer a way to ensure that your pet is looked after by professional caring hands and adopted out to a new home.
You can organise this directly with the animal welfare organisation that you choose – and you can document all of it in a will you create yourself, using our Online Will product. Alternatively, during a consultative will appointment, one of our will writers can help you find the appropriate animal shelter for your pet.

Considerations to make for your pet in your will

The cost of looking after your pet is something you should think about. Factors like the lifespan of your pet and whether you expect your pet to have any big future expenses will be something you will want to consider.
Some breeds of dog, like purebred dogs, will often have health problems at some point or another. These health problems can be expensive to treat. It might be a good idea to make sure your choice of carer has the money to pay for that treatment. Your choice of carer might also need to spend money to ensure that their home is appropriate for your pet.

Questions to consider

  • What is your pet’s expected lifespan?
  • What is the present cost associated with looking after your pet and what are the costs likely to be in the future?
  • Is your pet a purebred prone to certain illnesses or diseases which might be costly to treat?
  • Should you index the costs of pet care to allow for inflation?
  • Who is the best person or family to adopt your pet?
  • Do they have enough time, patience and love to care for your pet?
  • Will you adopt or acquire any other pets in the future?

We also encourage you to openly communicate with friends/relatives if you are intending to nominate them to care for your pet. If you choose to nominate a charity to care for your pet, make contact with the charity to ensure that your wishes can be met.

Ensure your pet is cared for with State Trustees

Seeking advice from a professional will writer is the best way to ensure that you’re making the right plans for your pet’s care. The team here at State Trustees, via a remote or in-person will consultation, can help you draft a will that sets your wishes out in detail for your pet. You can book a will consultation here online or call us on 1300 138 672 with questions about how we can support you.

If you have straightforward circumstances, an online will is a great choice for you. Our Online Will is a secure, guided experience. It’s simple and easy to do and takes as little as 30 minutes to complete.

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